Personal Log  #953

July 6, 2019  -  July 10, 2019

Last Updated:  Mon. 7/29/2019

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Wider Scale.  Ironically, this attempt to look at the bigger picture failed to look at the bigger picture:  "On a wider scale, I think most people who buy a PHEV want to switch to electric but have range anxiety issues.  But after driving a PHEV for 3 or 4 years and they decide to buy a new car, it will be a BEV as charge points become more ubiquitous and they realize lugging around a gas burning engine is not required.  PHEVs are a stepping stone to BEVs, not a long term solution to pollution."  Through no fault of his own, this is basically just a lack of realizing there's more at play then what's been commented about.  The difference between a peer attempting to be objective and an antagonists attempting to undermine is awareness.  Do they realize their observations are incomplete?  That's easy to determine.  Just repeatedly present the information.  If they go out of their way to dispute or evade, their intent is revealed as trying to impede.  If they apply some type of critical thinking with the openness to feedback, they are successfully being objective.  I already knew this individual wasn't trying to stir trouble and provided feedback accordingly:  That perspective of "not a long term solution to pollution" requires turning a blind-eye to how many new vehicles are placed on the road every year.  It's over 80 MILLION.  That's a wider scale not to be overlooked. So what if there's an engine included for the next decade still?  Being PHEV that only use the their engine from time to time represents a drastic reduction of both smog & carbon related emissions.  Being realistic means seeing EV as the future, but accepting the reality that it will take over a decade of hard work to even get to a majority having changed.  In other words, there are a BILLION vehicles that will be part of the transition period.  Calling them a "stepping stone" is imply they are an insignificant stage on the path to EV.  That implicit downplay contributes to rhetoric for those fighting to retain the status quo.  Don't give them that opportunity


Premature.  It's the same old story.  20 years later, little about how people react to change has actually changed.  We simply have new venues to spread the lack of objectivity.  Collect a tiny bit of data, then draw a conclusion.  Ugh.  I dealt with more of that today, in the comments of an article stirring that very rhetoric... which is great for a publisher, since it attracts participation to their media source, but terrible for consumers trying to get constructive material:  PHEV availability hasn't even rolled out beyond the reach of early-adopters; yet, some are calling them dead already.  It's the same thing we saw in the past.  Very limited sampling is used to draw a conclusion about an entire category.  That's how narratives come about. Just pass along the same belief as group-think until no one questions it anymore.  We saw that play out with GM.  What got delivered for Volt was clearly not targeted at mainstream consumers, even though the claim was that vastly superior to Prius.  None of that audience cared about the business fundamentals required to support such engineering.  They just kept repeating a victory mantra.  Sound familiar to now?  There's just as much potential for some models of PHEV being embraced by the masses as some EV models.  A conclusion about either is far too premature.  Heck, we haven't even finished the initial subsidy stage yet.


Not The Same.  Tactics used to deceive don't often change.  Sadly, the majority of people have short attention-spans and don't bother to verify supposed facts.  They just accept the information presented to them without question.  It's a disturbing reality.  We're seeing a lot of that now with the death of Volt.  Even though it was a terrible example of what an automaker could deliver, it was the one every used.  So, there was some type of baseline discussions could focus on.  Now that it's gone, the obvious misunderstanding of how plug-in hybrid technology actually works and how much each design can vary is becoming a cold-hard reality to deal with.  That means we see quite a number of posts which wildly misrepresent plug-in hybrids.  Even worse, we continue to get evidence that some Volt enthusiasts who didn't know how their vehicle operated.  It's quite remarkable to see how they assemble anecdotal observations into an incorrect interpretation like that.  That spread of misinformation turns into rhetoric.  I keep fighting back the never-ending problem of those not-the-same claims:  Lumping all PHEV together is as reckless as lumping all EV together.  PHEV that are affordable will continue on just fine.  It fact, there's potential for growth now with the market thinning out.  That's why MSRP has been so vital, despite the rhetoric here attempting to evade acknowledgement of certain models not having a dependence upon tax-credits.  That's simply the next step taking place.  Designs unable to compete directly with traditional choices (those sharing the same showroom floor) will see sales plummet when subsidies come to an end.


Registration Fees.  Anyone else ever take the time to actually do the math?  Try this, the new proposal for Ohio: "For a driver who travels 13,500 miles per year in a vehicle getting 25 miles per gallon, the new tax would cost $57 more, or about $1.10 per week.  The plan also establishes new registration fees of $200 for electric plug-in vehicles and $100 for hybrids."  That means if you are driving a 50 MPG hybrid, you'll have to the $100 fee plus $28.50 from the new gas tax.  That $128.50 total is more than double what the person driving the guzzler must pay... or is it?  The impression of penalizing the person driving the hybrid to that extreme sends a terrible message.  For the EV, that's a different calculation, since no gas tax whatsoever (original or the new addition) is paid.  But if you do the math, stating a final gas tax of $0.30 per gallon.  Those 13,500 miles at 25 MPG would be 540 gallons.  That works out to $162 in the end.  Sadly, it's easy to manipulate people's beliefs by choosing numbers that misrepresent... a common practice for those spinning a narrative.  Be very careful.  Always ask for detail.  Always do the math.  The actual of calculating a variety of scenarios can be quite revealing.


End of 2017.  Having read through the discussion thread a decade ago got me thinking about the end of 2017.  Remember then, when things were really starting to look grim for gen-2 Volt?  Enthusiasts new 2018 would be even worse.  This particular quote is what I close my post at that time to provoke discussion on the old daily blog: "We all know offering an affordably designed plug-in hybrid system in a small SUV, like Trax, is what GM desperately needs.  We also know that the moment it is announced, demand for their traditional SUV offerings will see an immediate negative impact.  That corner GM is trapped in has become quite obvious."  Advice about taking some thoughts with replies fell on deaf ears.  It became a desperate effort to defend GM, doing everything possible to avoid addressing the "range anxiety" problem Volt was intended to solve but Bolt ended up doing instead.  That digressed into Toyota attacks and a refusal to acknowledge the goal of replacing traditional vehicles... which is why I blog so much.  It documents how long this problems persist.  They learn nothing, which allows the problem to repeat.  At this point, so many major battles have been lost (Two-Mode, Volt-1, Volt-2, Bolt) that the entire industry is looking at GM failure as a sign about how difficult it really will be to address change.  BMW's step down of their highest executive overseeing their electrification efforts for the past 4 years was a major upset this week.  It creates uncertainty among other giants (like VW & Ford) who make lots of announcements for the future but don't have anything laid out for deliver detail.  It's all a "here's what we're working on" expression of hope.  All of a sudden it will be the end of 2021 and we'll be wondering why not much actually happened yet from them.  Thankfully, at least the push from Toyota is going well.  We can see that quite a bit of effort is being expended to avoid getting cornered.  With such an obvious trap, you'd think they'd at least try.  Ugh.


New Chargers, Day 2.  It was another strange day.  The power on the 1 unit was still off.  The other 3 had been programmed though; however, 1 side of 1 of them was displaying an error.  Hmm?  None of that was the big news though.  To my delight, there appeared to be an unexpected change of policy.  The charger was displaying "Free" when I checked online status.  Could it really be that the fee for charging had been dropped?  Since the ramp has an 80 kWh solar-array mounted along the many floors of its sunward side, that expense for electricity would pretty much be a wash.  No daily cost to use the chargers certainly would be great!!!  The chargers themselves are fantastic.  No more messing with cords.  The build in screen is incredibly informative.  Chances of attracting more use are very encouraging.  Sweet!


New Chargers, Day 1.  The wait has been so long, I don't remember when it began.  2 of the chargers at the ramp I park on for work lost their network connection, but continued to work.  You just couldn't interact with them online anymore.  The ramp owner decided to replace all of the chargers there with new models.  That was back during Winter, when the effort to do that was futile.  When Spring arrived, the change over started.  But progress didn't really amount to anything.  Blocked off spots meant something would eventually happen.  Finally, we got one new unit.  It had a "not available" sign on it though for awhile.  That quickly changed to having it turned on, but not programmed yet.  We could use the 10 grace periods in the meantime though.  Finally, it got setup.  Complete!  Phew!  3 more to come.  All of a sudden, they did too.  We then had to wait for programming.  I had hoped it would be the next day.  That didn't happen.  3 of us had to park there without plugging in.  I was annoyed, since my drive to the ramp included an errand which ran the available range down to just 0.2 mile.  It was barely enough to get there on just electricity.  But sadly, I couldn't recharge.  To my surprise, the 2 connected to the only working unit couldn't either.  For some reason, it lost power after both started to draw from it.  Eek!  What was to come?


Doses Of Reality.  It was really nice having someone chime in with one today: "You realize that even on cloudy days the cells are still packing it into the batteries.  The panels now days don't need direct sun or even sunny days to generate power.  Just sayin'."  I had overlooked the fact that the antagonist was trying to steer the discussion to an ideal by implying solar would only work in bright conditions.  Even with the small dedicated solar panels I have for each of my 4K Wi-Fi cameras, they fact is obvious.  But I got hung up in his trap, not stopping to think about how effortlessly they keep the batteries charged.  It works so well, that's easy to overlook.  I never have to think about them.  They just always work.  A solar-array mounted on the surface of a vehicle won't be that efficient, but it certainly will be effective.  Forced-Air cooling for the battery-pack, even when parked indirect sun without being plugged in, won't be a big deal.  The system will simply take care of itself.  Heck, that extra electricity while you're driving would come in handy too.  Think about how expensive and inefficient Prius was when it rolled out over 21 years ago compared to what it is now.  Toyota had to start somewhere... and they are already approaching a point with solar where some people will take notice.  There's definite potential.  Continued refinements of the tech will get it to that price-parity point.  This is where patience & persistence really pay off.  The catch is, you have to keep fighting antagonists with doses of reality in the meantime.  Otherwise, there efforts to undermine will overwhelm the message of progress.


On-Paper Scribbles.  A thread about solar is new territory... with the same old tactics.  Some work.  Some don't.  In this case, it has come to everyone trying to calculate outcome.  Antagonists are scrambling to show the effort is a waste.  To do that, they often just make up numbers.  I have real-world data to counter that with.  So, I am:  That estimate is way off.  A full recharge of the EV portion of the battery-pack for me averages just 5.75 kWh.  This morning, my JuiceBox Pro reported 5.58 kWh.  Remember, I have to brake when approaching my driveway.  So, there's no real concept of being totally empty or the same amount each time.  Also, summer month deliver an average of 30 miles EV range.  That supposed 4.3 kWh return would actually work out to about 22 miles... more than enough for the commute home... which doesn't consume the entire capacity anyway.  In other words, on-paper scribbles don't translate well to real-world driving.

7-07-2019 Desperate Already.  Downplay of the solar feature fell apart.  This is what the discussion devolved into: "Because Toyota is 5 years behind Tesla and they know it."  That lack of substance is great.  Repeating a mantra gets old, especially when something new like this comes out of nowhere.  I was delighted to fire this back:

How are you coming up with such an estimate?  Comparing a legacy automaker who sells roughly 10 million vehicles per year worldwide to a startup building infrastructure with lots of venture capital & subsidies and far fewer sales is pointless.  They have little to nothing in common.

Choosing to ignore the current production Toyota is already delivering basically negates claims made anyway.  The traction-motors used in Corolla hybrid, Camry hybrid, RAV4 hybrid, Highlander hybrid, Prius Prime, Mirai, etc. represent very solid EV experience, as does the production of all the cells used in their battery-packs.   The heat-pump used by Prius Prime is industry leading for efficiency.  The electric A/C is quite impressive for efficiency too.

Think about how much that is doing already to drive down production cost and build up a reputation for reliability.  Seeing further R&D spent on exploring other aspects of electric benefit actually puts Toyota in the leadership circle.  So claims of "behind" are just rhetoric passed along without substance.

You're overlooking the most important part too.  For a legacy automaker, finding a means of getting dealers (their true customer) to embrace change is absolutely vital.  Success in that realm is undeniable.  RAV4 sales currently (first half of 2019) show 23% are the hybrid model.  That shift away from guzzlers is momentum which will serve Toyota well as plug-in interest rises.


New Battle Front.  Antagonists experienced an announced attack on a totally new front... a sucker punch.  Out of the blue, Toyota revealed they are testing a new type of solar-cell for automotive use.  It thinner than in the past, which makes it more flexible and more efficient.  That efficiency rate jumps from the current 22.5% to +34%.  It's quite an improvement.  So much so, there's worry about this new arrow in Toyota's quiver.  That equates to some sizeable levels of EV range being replenished while parked and while driving.  That's a twist no one saw coming.  Seeing Toyota on the offensive makes those antagonists crazy.  They have no idea how to deal with that.  Some of the old rhetoric isn't working well either.  I was obviously amused to witness the struggle and was happy to join in the new battle:  You're completely missing the point of getting more out of less.  I have two 4K wi-fi cameras outside that never need to be plugged in.  Each equipped with a small solar-panel makes them extremely convenient.  It also means they don't require as large of a battery.  Those same advantages translate over to a vehicle.


Timeline Downplay.  I see posts like this frequently: "Don't worry about PHEVs.  There is no long term future for them, they are a transition vehicle for people not ready to take the full step to BEVs."  Calling them out for lack of substance usually ends up a battle.  Some feel insulted, since from their point of view nothing else needs to be said.  Few recognize the absence of anything measurable.  No quantity of any type... volume, pricing, duration, variants, markets, etc... is a dead giveaway they didn't actually put any thought into what they posted.  It was just a gut reaction based on anecdotal observations.  Constantly having to deal with such callous attitude about what some claim is annoying.  But that serves as an indication of progress.  Certain things are eventually overcome.  Remember misconceptions from 20 years ago?  It's a slow process.  Even small steps are progress.  Here's my small push forward for today:  Just a transition vehicle?  That downplay is telling.  Toyota has sold over 13 MILLION hybrids and sales continue to grow.  Prius Prime and Corolla PHV are now demonstrating just how easy it is to offer a variety of competitive-with-traditional choices offering a plug.  Think about how long it will take for BEV to become a choice actually able to compete head-to-head with a traditional choice on the showroom floor.  We all know that will eventually happen, but not anytime soon.  Prices are still too high and profit still too low.  That makes them very unappealing for dealers to even bother to stock them.  How many 10's of MILLIONS of plug-in hybrids could be sold in the meantime?  It's all about being realistic.  You can't just blow off such a significant of a stage like that, especially when we all know that the first plug-in purchase will lead to serious consideration of a second with greater capacity.  In other words, BEV depend upon PHEV to help deal with the pushback.  Remember, the inherit nature of most people is to resist change.


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